How Is the Colorectal Cancer Control Program Doing?

Program developed by the CDC “shows promise” in implementing evidence-based interventions for patients with cancer.


The CDC developed the Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) to provide direct colorectal cancer (CRC) screening services to low-income, uninsured, or underinsured populations known to have low CRC screening rates. However, early evaluators found the program was insufficient to detect impact at the state level. In response to those findings, the CDC redesigned CRCCP and funded a new 5-year grant period beginning in 2015. How did the program fare this time? CDC researchers say it “shows promise.”

The CRCCP funds 23 states, 6 universities, and 1 tribal organization to partner with health care systems, implementing evidence-based interventions (EBIs). In this study, the researchers analyzed data reported by 387 of 413 clinics of varying sizes, representing 3,438 providers, and serving a screening-eligible population of 722,925 patients.

The researchers say their evaluation suggests that the CRCCP is working as intended: Program reach was measurable and “substantial,” clinics enhanced EBIs in place or implemented new ones, and the overall average screening rate rose.

At baseline, the screening rate was low (43%), and lowest in rural clinics—although evidence indicates that death rates for CRC are highest among people living in rural areas. In the first year, the overall screening rate increased by 4.4 percentage points. Still, that 47.3% is “much lower” than the commonly cited 67.3% from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the researchers note. They add, though, that the results confirm that grantees are working with clinics serving the intended populations and indicate the significant gap in CRC screening rates between those reached by the CRCCP and the US population overall.

Many clinics had ≥ 1 EBI or supporting activity (SA) already in place. Grantees used CRCCP resources to implement new or to enhance EBIs in 95% of the clinics, most often patient reminder activities and provider assessment and feedback. Most of the clinics used CRCCP resources for SAs, such as small media and provider education. Only 12% of clinics used resources for supporting community health workers. However, nearly half the clinics conducted planning activities for future implementation of community health workers and patient navigators.

Nearly 80% of the clinics reported having a CRC screening champion, 73% had a CRC screening policy, and 50% had either 3 or 4 EBIs in place at the end of the first year—all factors that the researchers suggest may support greater screening rate increases.

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